BULLYING PREVENTION AND RESPONSE POLICY
Sunshine Heights Primary School
BULLYING PREVENTION AND RESPONSE POLICY
Sunshine Heights Primary School is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment where bullying will not be tolerated.
Our strategies for preventing and responding to bullying behaviour are strongly underpinned by our School Values and Positive Behaviour framework.
The purpose of this policy is to:
- explain the definition of bullying so that there is shared understanding amongst all members of the Sunshine Heights Primary School community
- make clear that no form of bullying at Sunshine Heights Primary School will be tolerated
- outline the strategies and programs in place at Sunshine Heights Primary School to build a positive school culture and prevent bullying behaviour
- ask that everyone in our school community be alert to signs and evidence of bullying behaviour, and accept responsibility to report bullying behaviour to school staff
- ensure that all reported incidents of bullying are appropriately investigated and addressed
- ensure that support is provided to students who may be affected by bullying behaviour (including targets, bystanders and students engaging in bullying behaviour)
- seek parental and peer group support in addressing and preventing bullying behaviour at Sunshine Heights Primary School.
When responding to bullying behaviour, Sunshine Heights Primary School aims to:
- be proportionate, consistent and responsive
- find a constructive solution for everyone
- stop the bullying from happening again
- restore the relationships between the students involved.
Sunshine Heights Primary School acknowledges that school staff owe a duty of care to students to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of reasonably foreseeable harm, which can include harm that may be caused by bullying behaviour.
This policy addresses how Sunshine Heights Primary School aims to prevent, address and respond to student bullying behaviour. Sunshine Heights Primary School recognises that there are many other types of inappropriate student behaviours that do not meet the definition of bullying which are also unacceptable at our school. These other inappropriate behaviours will be managed in accordance with our Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy and Inclusion and Diversity policy.
This policy applies to all school activities, including camps and excursions.
In 2018 the Education Council of the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the following definition of bullying for use by all Australian schools:
Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.
Bullying can happen in person or online, via various digital platforms and devices and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (for example, through sharing of digital records)
Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.
Bullying has three main features:
- It involves a misuse of power in a relationship
- It is ongoing and repeated, and
- It involves behaviours that can cause harm.
Bullying can be:
- direct physical bullying – e.g. hitting, tripping, and pushing or damaging property.
- direct verbal bullying – e.g. name calling, insults, homophobic or racist remarks, verbal abuse.
- indirect bullying – e.g. spreading rumours, playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate, mimicking, encouraging others to socially exclude a person and/or damaging a person’s social reputation or social acceptance.
Cyberbullying is direct or indirect bullying behaviours using digital technology. For example via a mobile device, computers, chat rooms, email, social media, etc. It can be verbal, written and include images, video and/or audio.
Other distressing and inappropriate behaviours
Many distressing and inappropriate behaviours may not constitute bullying even though they are unpleasant. Students who are involved in or who witness any distressing and inappropriate behaviours should report their concerns to school staff and our school will follow the Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy.
Mutual conflict involves an argument or disagreement between people with no imbalance of power. In incidents of mutual conflict, generally, both parties are upset and usually both want a resolution to the issue. Unresolved mutual conflict can develop into bullying if one of the parties targets the other repeatedly in retaliation.
Social rejection or dislike is not bullying unless it involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others.
Single-episode acts of nastiness or physical aggression are not the same as bullying. However, single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression are not acceptable behaviours at our school and may have serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. Sunshine Heights Primary School will use its Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy to guide a response to single episodes of nastiness or physical aggression.
Harassment is language or actions that are demeaning, offensive or intimidating to a person. It can take many forms, including sexual harassment and disability harassment. Further information about these two forms of harassment, including definitions, is set out in our Inclusion and Diversity Policy. Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at Sunshine Heights Primary School and may have serious consequences for students engaging in this behaviour. Sunshine Heights Primary School will use its Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy to guide a response to students demonstrating harassing behaviour, unless the behaviour also constitutes bullying, in which case the behaviour will be managed in accordance with this Bullying Prevention Policy.
Sunshine Heights Primary School has a number of programs and strategies in place to build a positive and inclusive school culture. We strive to foster a school culture that prevents bullying behaviour by modelling and encouraging behaviour that demonstrates acceptance, kindness and respect.
Bullying prevention at Sunshine Heights Primary School is proactive and is supported by research that indicates that a whole school, multifaceted approach is the most effect way to prevent and address bullying. At our school:
- We have a positive school environment that provides safety, security and support for students and promotes positive relationships and wellbeing.
- We strive to build strong partnerships between the school, families and the broader community that means all members work together to ensure the safety of students.
- Teachers are encouraged to incorporate classroom management strategies that discourage bullying and promote positive behaviour.
- Our school community developed four school values of Connection, Courage, Commitment and Collaboration, which are communicated and celebrated right across the school.
- We celebrate Harmony Day each year and this whole school community event gives us a great connection, cohesion and openness around our diversity.
- A range of year level incursions and programs are planned each year to raise awareness about bullying and its impacts. These include:
- Empowering the Bystander
- Zones of Regulation
- Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships
- Project Rockit
- Social Work Programs
- The Right to Learn and the Right to be Safe
- Student social groups (run by external providers such as Melbourne City Mission and Brimbank Youth Services).
- Our Community of Learners unit of work at the beginning of each year ensures that all learners participate in, are engaged with and know what behaviour is expected of them.
- The Sunshine Heights PS Behaviour Flow Chart details minor and major behaviours that are communicated and explicitly taught to students, which creates a whole-school approach to behaviours, and is connected to a Positive Behaviour Matrix
- Our Student Leaders promote inclusion and diversity and, as a flow on, build capacity and expected behaviours in their peers.
- The Buddy program is connected to student support and encourages positive relationships between students in different year levels.
- Students are encouraged to look out for each other and to talk to teachers and older peers about any bullying they have experienced or witnessed.
- We unpack and act on data regarding our wellbeing including:
- Student Opinion Survey
- Parent/Carers Opinion Survey
- Resilient Youth Survey.
- We actively seek new ways and activities that promote inclusion and diversity.
- Staff professional development around behaviour insights and management
For further information about our engagement and wellbeing initiatives, please see our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy.
Reporting concerns to Sunshine Heights Primary School
Bullying complaints will be taken seriously and responded to sensitively at our school.
Students who may be experiencing bullying behaviour, or students who have witnessed bullying behaviour, are encouraged to report their concerns to school staff as soon as possible.
Our ability to effectively reduce and eliminate bullying behaviour is greatly affected by students and/or parents and carers reporting concerning behaviour as soon as possible, so that the responses implemented by Sunshine Heights Primary School are timely and appropriate in the circumstances.
We encourage students to speak to with any trusted member of staff or adult including teachers, support staff, wellbeing staff or Principal.
Parents or carers who develop concerns that their child is involved in, or has witnessed bullying behaviour at Sunshine Heights Primary School should contact their child’s teacher or Francine Sculli, Wellbeing, Engagement & Community Francine.Sculli@education.vic.gov.au or David Cocks, Principal.
When notified of alleged bullying behaviour, school staff are required to:
- record the details of the allegations; and
- inform Francine Sculli, Wellbeing, Engagement & Community or the Principal.
Francine Sculli, Wellbeing, Engagement & Community is responsible for investigating allegations of bullying in a timely and sensitive manner. To appropriately investigate an allegation of bullying, Francine may:
- speak to the those involved in the allegations, including the target/s, the students allegedly engaging in bullying behaviour/s and any witnesses to the incidents
- speak to the parents of the students involved
- speak to the teachers of the students involved
- take detailed notes of all discussions for future reference
- obtain written statements from all or any of the above.
All communications with Francine Sculli, Wellbeing, Engagement & Community in the course of investigating an allegation of bullying will be managed sensitively. Investigations will be completed as quickly as possible to allow for the behaviours to be addressed in a timely manner.
The objective of completing a thorough investigation into the circumstances of alleged bullying behaviour is to determine the nature of the conduct and the students involved. A thorough understanding of the alleged bullying will inform staff about how to most effectively implement an appropriate response to that behaviour.
Serious bullying, including serious cyberbullying, is a criminal offence and may be referred to Victoria Police. For more information, see: Brodie’s Law.
Responses to bullying behaviours
When Francine Sculli, Wellbeing, Engagement & Community has sufficient information to understand the circumstances of the alleged bullying and the students involved, a number of strategies may be implemented to address the behaviour and support affected students in consultation with the Assistant Principal and Principal.
There are a number of factors that will be considered when determining the most appropriate response to the behaviour. When making a decision about how to respond to bullying behaviour, Sunshine Heights Primary School will consider:
- the age and maturity of the students involved
- the severity and frequency of the bullying, and the impact it has had on the target student
- whether the student/s engaging in bullying behaviour have displayed similar behaviour before
- whether the bullying took place in a group or one-to-one context
- whether the students engaging in bullying behaviour demonstrates insight or remorse for their behaviour
- the alleged motive of the behaviour, including any element of provocation.
Staff involved may implement all, or some of the following responses to bullying behaviours:
- Offer wellbeing support to the student or students involved, including referral to support services
- Offer wellbeing support to the students engaging in bullying behaviour
- Offer wellbeing support to affected students, including witnesses and/or friends of the target student
- Facilitate a restorative practice meeting with all or some of the students involved. The objective of restorative practice is to repair relationships that have been damaged by bringing about a sense of remorse and restorative action on the part of the person who has bullied someone and forgiveness by the person who has been bullied.
- Facilitate a mediation between some or all of the students involved to help to encourage students to take responsibility for their behaviour and explore underlying reasons for conflict or grievance. Mediation is only suitable if all students are involved voluntarily and demonstrate a willingness to engage in the mediation process.
- Implement a Method of Shared Concern process with all students involved in the bullying.
- Facilitate a Behaviour Support Plan for affected students.
- Prepare a Safety Plan restricting contact between target and students engaging in bullying behaviour.
- Provide discussion and/or mentoring for different social and emotional learning competencies of the students involved, including the Zones of Regulation, Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships and targeted programs run by external services such as Melbourne City Mission, Brimbank Youth Services and Social Workers
- Monitor the behaviour of the students involved for an appropriate time and take follow up action if necessary using the 10 Days of Monitoring method.
- Implement classroom targeted strategies to reinforce positive behaviours, for example our Community of Learners unit of work at the start of each year.
- Implement disciplinary consequences for the students engaging in bullying behaviour, which may include removal of privileges, detention, suspension and/or expulsion consistent with our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy, the Ministerial Order on Suspensions and Expulsions and any other relevant Department policy.
Sunshine Heights Primary School understands the importance of monitoring and following up on the progress of students who have been involved in or affected by bullying behaviour. Where appropriate, school staff will also endeavour to provide parents and carers with updates on the management of bullying incidents.
Francine Sculli, Wellbeing, Engagement & Community is responsible for maintaining up to date records of the investigation of and responses to bullying behaviour.
This policy will be communicated to our school community in the following ways:
- Available publicly on our school’s website
- Included in staff induction processes
- Included in our staff handbook/manual
- Discussed at staff briefings/meetings as required
- Discussed at parent information nights/sessions
- Included in transition and enrolment packs
- Included as annual reference in school newsletter
- Key points displayed in classrooms
- Made available in hard copy from school administration upon request.
Further information and resources
This policy should be read in conjunction with the following school policies:
- Statement of Values and School Philosophy
- Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy
- Parent Complaints policy
- Duty of Care Policy
- Inclusion and Diversity Policy
The following websites and resources provide useful information on prevention and responding to bullying, as well as supporting students who have been the target of bullying behaviours:
- Bully Stoppers
- Kids Helpline
- No way!
- Student Wellbeing Hub
- Office of the eSafety Commissioner
- Australian Student Wellbeing Framework
This policy will be reviewed every 3 years, or earlier as required following an incident or analysis of new research or school data relating to bullying, to ensure that the policy remains up to date, practical and effective.
Data will be collected through:
- discussion and consultation with students and parent/carers
- regular student bullying surveys
- regular staff surveys
- assessment of other school-based data, including the number of reported incidents of bullying in each year group and the effectiveness of the responses implemented
- Attitudes to School Survey
- Parent Opinion Survey
- Resilience Survey.
Proposed amendments to this policy will be discussed with our school community.
Policy review and approval
Policy last reviewed
Parents, Students, Staff, School Council
Next scheduled review date